One of 2015’s culinary trends that is expected to kick it up a notch along with ethnic/hot and spicy, barbecue and dairyis fermented flavors. From regional small-batch pickles and whiskey to probiotic-rich foods such as kimchi and miso, fermented foods are appealing to those looking for a digestive aid or a kick of flavor/spice.
New research published in Psychiatry Research is linking fermented foods to a reduction in social anxiety (2015;228(2):203-208).The researchers used a cross-sectional approach to determine whether consumption of fermented foods likely to contain probiotics interacts with neuroticism to predict social anxiety symptoms.
A sample of young adults (N=710, 445 female) completed self-report measures of fermented food consumption, neuroticism and social anxiety. An interaction model showed exercise frequency, neuroticism and fermented food consumption significantly and independently predicted social anxiety. Moreover, fermented food consumption also interacted with neuroticism in predicting social anxiety. Specifically, for those high in neuroticism, higher frequency of fermented food consumption was associated with fewer symptoms of social anxiety. Taken together with previous studies, these results suggest fermented foods that contain probiotics may have a protective effect against social anxiety symptoms for those at higher genetic risk. Yes, additional research is necessary to determine the direction of causality, but these results do suggest consumption of fermented foods that contain probiotics may serve as a low-risk intervention for reducing social anxiety.